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Alfred Lambert (1901-1985)

From Bishopdale School: Memories of Bishopdale School 1906-1913 as remembered by Mr. Alfred Lambert (1901-1985) of Thoralby - one of the oldest surviving school scholars of the school, published in The Aysgarth Church Parish Magazine, September 1983 [Alfred was aged 82].

​"I who was born in Bishopdale went to the school and was christened at the school. The two other surviving scholars are Mr. R. Fawcett and Mr. Tom Dinsdale both of Aysgarth.

​It is important to try and recapture the life and times of Bishopdale around 1906. The Lodge, who owned Bishopdale came around 1770-80, reputedly [sic.] Dry Salters from the Manchester area. Records taken from the graves in Aysgarth show that the first record was of an infant girl, who died in 1790. Also John and Elizabeth his wife both died in 1810, at the age of 84 and 85 respectively [see Aysgarth Monumental Inscriptions]. A Robert Lodge who married Alice [Robinson] and lived at East New House (now demolished) died in 1831. They had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son was John born in (1785-1845). 

​Alfred well remembers Col. John William Lodge (1857- 1917) a descendent. He was short, well built with flourishing moustache. He never married. He had three sisters Alice, Isobel and Elizabeth. Only Elizabeth married a Major Liddon. They had four daughters and one son Major Liddon Junior hence the Liddon and lodge trust as it is today. The Lodge family controlled the Bishopdale situation for about 150 years. They built the Rookery around 1874 but never really completed. The Lodges planted the five true plantations on the North side of Wassett Fell facing the Rookery in the shape of the name LODGE. Alfred also remembers the Lodge family attending Aysgarth Church accompanied by servants and staff who followed the Lodge carriage in a dogcart. All the staff lived in at the Rookery and were not allowed to go out during the evening.

​Mr. Alfred Lambert started at Bishopdale school in 1906 at the age of five years old. In those days the farms were owned by the Lodge family so all the families were tenant farmers. The children who attended the school with Alfred were as follows:- James, Polly and Tommy Fryer - Dales head farm, Rankin Waddle - Kidston, Betty Pounder, Bessie, Florrie Metcalfe - Smelter (Mr. Metcalfe was game keeper), Rebecca, Jenny Sayer - Myres Garth. Victor, Septimus Close - Ribba (Eight children in all). Betty and Amy Heseltine - New Gill. Tom and Ellen Dinsdale - Dale Foot. Ammie Florrie, Alice and Rose Thwaite - West Lane House. Betsy, Roland, Lena, Jane and Kate Fawcett - Scar Top. Mary Fawcett - Longridge. Twenty five children altogether.

​The school was built by the Lodge family, and according to [Kellys Directory 1909] was opened for 50 children. It was the custom for the country estates in those days to build a school, so that the children on the estate could be educated. In 1841, by the School Site Act special facilities in the conveyance of land for school purposes were afforded. The landed gentry responded with great public spirit, with the result that the vast majority of rural and many urban parishes were freely endowed with sites for Elementary Schools. The Education Act of 1870, among other things charged the Ed. Dept. to make provisions for the foundation of school boards in every district. Hence the schools which were built as the result of the 1870 Act were termed Council of Boards Schools.

In 1906, there were 26 children attending the school one class, one teacher, a Miss Parry (Welch) she started at the same time as Alfred and left in 1913 to go to the school in Walden. The school had two rooms, one being used for religious purposes. It was heated by an open fire place (still in use) and a combustion stove in the second room, upon which the teacher used to warm her dinner of meat and potatoes in a basin. On one occasion after Alfred had left Miss Squiver the teacher, set fire to herself. [See details below]. The school was lit by oil lamps which hung from the ceiling. There was one water tap outside and a double throne earth midden for toilet. The school day began at 9 a.m. with Religious Education and finished at 3.30 p.m. Reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, tables and P.T. were taught. Slates and slate pencils were used prior to paper when there was drawing with coloured pencils clay also used. Alfred remembers the first reader (very few books.) 

​'I am a hen and I have five chicks you will have seen me before.'

​Three inspectors visited the school. The Religious Education Inspector, after which the day was a holiday. Physical Training - Mr. Prince and a General Knowledge Inspector - Mr. Blades, the Attendance Officer visited regularly - he was know locally as the 'Kid catcher.'

​Holidays were given on Empire Day and Leyburn fair days in May and October.

​On Royal Oak Day May 29th, the children used to say 'If you don't give us a holiday, we will run away.' and run they did - up the side of the waterfall [Fors Gill] to the Shooting Box on the open Moor above the school. The teacher rang the bell in vain. This was reported to Col. Lodge, who visited the school the next morning rep-remanded with a twinkle in his eye. School was closed in heavy snowfalls or a swollen beck. Alfred who walked down the side of the beck from New House was told by his mother 'If you fall in the beck you will go to Scarborough' Miss Lodge used to arrange and pay for Alfred and his mother (who was house maid at the Rookery for eight years) to go to Scarborough for a ten day holiday, to stay with a Mr. Scott, a retired butler of the Lodge Estate. They travelled by train from Aysgarth Station and Alfred used to bring a bucket of sand back to New House.

​At Xmas, a Xmas tree and presents of books were provided by the Lodge family."

"Alfred left the school in 1913 when he went to live in Leyburn. In 1922, the school was out into the Liddon and Lodge Trust as a memorial to the Lodge family and is on a 999 year lease to Aysgarth Parish, to be handed back in good repair!

​The school closed as a school July 31st, 1928 - according to County Hall records when the children were transferred to West Burton. After the Lodges left, The Rookery was used as a co-educational boarding school during World War II and later as a youth hostel. The estate was bought by Mr. Green - a timber merchant - who demolished the house and sold off the stone etc. The stables and coach house remained and have made a desirable home for Mr. & Mrs. Sleigh.

​Religious services are held regularly in the school. The building has been repaired and decorated and continues to serve the lively community of Bishopdale. 

​A Harvest Festival and supper is planned for Sept. 8th, 1983 - may be reminiscent of the Coronation Party [King George V] of 1911 when roast beef and ham was served and enjoyed by all the Bishopdale Community. "

Alfred was born in Bishopdale in 1901 the only child to John and Maud née Taylor, Lambert. 

Alfred & John Lambert, haytime, 1920s
© Thoralby Through Time

From: Journey into Bishopdale, Dalesman, 1957 Vol. 19 pp.274-277

by William R. Mitchell

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

The following is a transcription from the above Magazine:

© Thoralby Through Time

Postman's Round

BISHOPDALE remains elusive to the visitor if he keeps to the valley road, and the valley's shape and character is best appreciated from the height, either from Kidstones Pass or the hill ranges on either side.

Alfred Lambert [1901-1984], of Thoralby, covers twelve miles of rough, upland country six days a week as postman on the Gayle Ing round, which brings in the farms of Littleburn, Swine Cote, Blind Syke, Cote Bottom and How Syke.

This round reaches an altitude of 2,300 feet, and there are no metalled roads - just sheep trods. Mr. Lambert crosses stretches of heather, picks his way through bogs, and fords many streams. In 1947 he had to negotiate twelve feet drifts. Once he fell through a drift into a beck, and was buried up to his neck, with feet sodden by the cold fell water.

He knows the upland so well he has never been lost in mist, but has known days when the visibility has been down to ten yards. Frost is welcomed. It makes the going better. Starting at nine o'clock and finishing  the round at noon, he averages three and a half miles an hour.

Another Thoralby man who knows the Dales intimately is Jack Kilburn [1918-1991], rabbit, poultry and game dealer for six years. He took over from Bob Heseltine [1892-1956], who had the business for thirty years.

Myxomatosis claimed the rabbits which were responsible for the bulk of the trade, but Mr. Kilburn knows the rabbit well. and thinks it will be back in its old haunts before long, though the numbers may not be as high as before the disease struck.

He has a modern wet-plucker for poultry, and can handle sixty birds an hour with the help of an assistant. It's about three times as fast as hand plucking.

In the spring he handles a good many goslings, selling them for fattening in the lower country, and sometimes he buys back the fattened birds for sale to townsfolk!"

Village Hall Committee, Alfred Lambert, 1959

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© Thoralby Through Time
Alfred Lambert, 1980, DCM, Hawes
© Thoralby Through Time

ALFRED LAMBERT 2nd May, 1980,

courtesy of the DCM, Hawes.

At the door of his cottage built in 1811 as The Volunteer Inn by James Willis, whose great-great-great niece, Anita Binnerts donated this photograph.

Darlington & Stockton Times - 1958

Thoralby’s Singing Postman has a 12 mile Daily Trek

"Mr. Alfred Lambert, of the Grove, Thoralby, a postman on a dales walking round of about 12 miles daily, has encountered all types of winter weather recently, but hardy as he is, he rarely grumbles about his task.


His round from Thoralby post office includes the long 2 miles climb over the Bishopdale fells to Gayle Ing Farm, 1450 ft. above sea level.  Neighbouring farms are Blind Syke, Swiney Cote, How Syke and Cote Bottom.  He also visits Littleburn to the west of Thoralby and some farms to the east of the village, including Riddings and Spickles.  The round can only be covered on foot as there are no metalled roads, and in some parts only sheep tracks.


Seen by a D & S. Times correspondent on the steep moorland road above Thoralby, Mr. Lambert recalled some of his journeys in 1947 when he had to break through drifts 12 ft. deep, and on one occasion, fell through a drift into a beck, being buried in snow up to the neck with his feet in icy water.

He prefers to go on his round in frosty weather, when the going is good and the air just right for walking uphill and down dale. “mists can be troublesome on these moors” he said, “and it is easy to get lost, but I watch my landmarks.”


He is accustomed to rain, for many times he has had to face the full force of a storm on the fell tops.


Mr. Lambert, who has good health seldom misses his round; indeed, it is said that farmers set their watches by his appearance.  He knows the uplands so well that, whatever the weather, they can depend on his daily visit.  Mr. Lambert takes his part in the social activities of the district and is a member of Leyburn choral Society.  He rarely misses a practice and, for a change, cycles from Thoralby to Leyburn and back."

Alfred died in December 1984, aged 83 he is buried in Aysgarth Churchyard.

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